Rougemont (Canton of Vaud)
What a morning! Quelle matinée! From the window of our Hotel Valrose, not far from the Golden Panoramic Train station, we are greeted by the sunlit peaks, with the rugged Gummfluh (2458 m) towering above all others. We leave the picturesque Vaud village of Rougemont in our open-top PostBus to continue our journey. Past the shingle-covered, almost fortified church, we follow the path of the young Saane River to Châteaux d’Oex. Our first official stop to take photos – quite literally – is framed by the Grand Tour of Switzerland. We turn off towards Col des Mosses (1445 m), which we reach after half an hour’s drive. We drive up to the village, past warehouses of various Vaud communities, where a few hung-over youths have only just got out of bed and are greeting us in amazement. However, in the small Alpine dairy, Lioson d’en Bas, people are already industrious. We are in one of the places where the delicious Etivaz cheese originated, which is produced here and in many other places in the Vaud Alps. Today, the origin of the quality of milk and cheese is apparent: the early summer in the mountains pulls out all the stops with respect to Alpine flora.
We follow a steep hiking trail uphill through sparse forest, where the flowers and grass in the shade are just awakening from the stillness of the night. The damp, mossy edges of the path exude a subtle chill. We quickly gain height, not least because the sun is calling us. Afterwards we have our first, brief rest. As we look back, La Gruyère greets us from afar, the massive Moléson peak dominates, and further to the right we see the elegant Vanils with Freiburg’s highest peak, the Vanil Noir (2389 m) on the border between La Gruyère (Canton of Fribourg) and Pays d’Enhaut (Canton of Vaud). The last spruces make way for the first Alpine roses, which vie for our attention with numerous white Alpine anemones and bright yellow globeflowers. The green could not be any lusher; it contrasts beautifully with the last snow fields on the north sides. We walk past the ‘Vers les lacs’ mountain lodge, located at 1920 m, and continue our climb, following the enticing call of the peak. Thousands of anemones glisten in the light, and after two zigzag bends, we reach the passage. Below us, Lake Lioson is gleaming a dark turquoise, and a 35-minute walk above us is the enticing Pic Chaussy (2351 m), the summit we are aiming for today. We are at a crossroad – those who don’t want to climb any further, head for the lake and the inn with a terrace. Our hiking guide, Werner Forrer, explains that the waters of Lake Lioson run towards the River Rhone and the River Rhine, so we are looking at an actual watershed.
Now our climb gets a little steeper. The snow fields have only just receded from the hiking trail. The snowbells are glistening a delicate purple, whilst other rootlets are yet to unfurl and quickly develop into strong plants. We cross a number of snow fields, formed into a trough by the wind. To our right, the mountain falls away sharply; the two lakes lie like gems in the green meadows and the views are even more far-reaching. Behind the Moléson we see the Jura Mountains, behind Vanils the Gastlosen mountain range and, in addition to many other mountains, we see the previous day’s destination, the Gantrisch Mountain. Soon we reach the ridge, where the splendid panorama of Les Diablerets reveals itself to us. Two zigzag turns, and we are standing on the Pic Chaussy. The summit stands free amidst a breath-taking mountain arena. Luckily, there are two panels with the names of the mountains engraved on them, or alternatively you can look them up using a suitable app on your smartphone. The star of the show, clad in white, is without a doubt the Mont Blanc (4810 m); the Oldenhorn (3123 m) is spectacular; right next to it the Sex Rouge (2971 m) with its stylish aerial tramway station, from where you could embark on the simple, but breath-taking ‘Peak Walk’; and finally the eponymous Sommet des Diablerets. Towards the end of the valley, we see Leysin on its sun terrace and below it, Aigle and the Rhone Valley. We are on our way! But first we enjoy our packed lunch picnic, followed by a moment of leisure and appreciation, before our descent on the same path. How different a snow field feels when you are going downhill! We have to be careful, dig in our heels, keep our hands on the rope for additional safety, taking one step at a time… After a few key locations in the Alps, we head towards Lac Lioson. Not only are our fellow hikers waiting for us, the ‘Lioson d’en Haut’ inn with its terrace appeals greatly to us. The menu includes delicious ice cream, homemade cakes, beer and apple juice. The lake is sparkling a most gorgeous turquoise/teal, as a St. Bernhard is panting in the afternoon heat… these are moments we wish we could hold on to forever.
Nevertheless, we begin our half-hour descent on a small road and soon reach our starting point. Our PostBus driver Sergio is already waiting for us, and we simply have to take off our hiking boots and take a seat in the open-top coach.
700 metres difference in altitude, an approximately 2 ½ hour-climb and a descent taking just under 2 hours. T2
We drive via Col des Mosses – Aigle – St. Maurice with its 1500 year-old abbey – Martigny – Lower Valais – Saillon with its picturesque castle and large thermal bath, followed by the small wine-growing villages on the way to Sion. Soon we are travelling uphill again towards Crans Montana and the parish of Mollens (Canton of Valais), where our hosts at the Hotel Panorama are awaiting us.
Mollens (Canton of Valais), 23rd June 2018 – Susi Schildknecht